BROOKLYN, N.Y. (October 26, 2016)—The Sacred Heart women's basketball team was picked first in the Northeast Conference Preseason Poll receiving six first place votes as announced by the league Wednesday morning at the Barclays Center as part of the 2016 NEC Basketball Social Media Day. Along with the poll, the NEC also announced the 2016 Preseason All-NEC Team, which featured the reigning Player of the Year, Sacred Heart's Hannah Kimmel (Harpursville, N.Y.).
This is just the third time in the program's history that SHU was picked to finish first in the NEC Preseason Poll. Previously, Sacred Heart was the preseason favorite in 2006 and 2009, both times the Pioneers were coming off winning the NEC Championship.
After being named Preseason All-NEC last season, Kimmel led the Pioneers to a 16-2 conference record to clinch the program's fourth Regular Season Title. After knocking Mount St. Mary's and Saint Francis U out of the NEC Tournament in the quarterfinal and semifinal respectively, SHU hosted Robert Morris in the battle for the Championship. The Colonials edged out Sacred Heart by just five points, 56-51, to earn the league's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament, while the Pioneers headed to Drake for the WNIT.
In her third year playing for the Pioneers, Kimmel was just one of SHU's three major award winners. Jessica Mannetti, in her third year at the helm of the Sacred Heart women's basketball program, was named the Brenda Reilly Coach of the Year, while Alissa Tarsi earned the title of NEC Most Improved Player in her senior year.
Kimmel was the driving force behind Sacred Heart's offense throughout the 2015-16 season, leading the team in scoring in 19 games. She closed out the season on a 22-game streak of reaching double-digit points, and did so in all by three games last year. Her 17.1 points per game paced the Pioneers and ranked fourth in the league at the end of the regular season. Her all-around game helped her to record 11 double-doubles as the Harpursville native cleaned up the boards as well. As one of the squad's top two rebounders in 2015-16, Kimmel averaged 7.6 per gam and topped the NEC throughout the season in defensive boards, averaging 6.69 at the close of the regular season.
In addition to earning the NEC's Player of the Year title, Kimmel earned a spot on the All-NEC First Team for the second time in her career, and for the first time she was selected to the MBWA's All-Metropolitan Second team.
The Pioneers begin the hunt for the program's fourth Northeast Conference Championship on November 11 when they battle crosstown rival Fairfield at the Webster Bank Arena at 5:00 p.m.
2016-17 NEC Coaches Preseason Poll:
|Team||First Place Votes|
|3.||Saint Francis U||1|
|6.||St. Francis Brooklyn|
|8.||Mount St. Mary's|
2016-17 Preseason All-NEC Team:
Ivory Bailey, BRY, G, 5-7, Jr, Wyomissing, PA/Wilson
Shanovia Dove, LIU, G, 5-8, Sr, Palm Beach, FL/Palm Beach Lakes
Hannah Kimmel, SHU, F, 6-0, R-Sr., Harpursville, NY/Harpursville
Jessica Kovatch, SFU, G, 5-9, So, Phillipsburg, NJ/Phillipsburg
Anna Niki Stamolamprou, RMU, G, 5-9, Sr., Thessaloniki, Greece/Aristotelio College of Thessaloniki